It is far too hot and sticky this morning in Melbourne to spend vast amounts of time blogging. (hmmm, theory, how does weather affect blogging? More blogging if colder and stuck inside..?).

Four interesting stories today though, on the continuing Copyright and Politics saga in Canada, on the take-down of Wikipedia Germany, on Google Subpoenas and on the question of who owns the news in the US? More over the fold.

  1. First, in a fabulous display of pre-poll stress and poor judgment, Sam Bulte, the Canadian MP who has been getting heat for taking money and fundraisers from copyright industries while intimately involved in copyright policy, has threatened to sue law prof Michael Geist after the election, apparently for defamation. Wow, if that were to go ahead, it might make Canada a bit like Singapore – where suing for political discussion is a little more common. Perhaps a little heat of the moment statement? Canadian election is on Monday. Watch that space!
  2. There are reports that the German Wikipedia site has been taken down by court order. It turns out that the dispute is centered around a wikipedia entry about a hacker called “Tron.” The main page with the notice (in German) is here: The German language version of the U.S. Wikipedia is still online with the same information here: The article in question can be read in German here:, and in English here: As Techdirt notes, the German court order also says that the hacker’s full name can’t be mentioned on sites, again raising the question of just where local jurisdiction stops on the internet.
  3. The front page of the NYT website has a story that Bush administration, seeking to revive an online pornography law struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, has subpoenaed Google Inc. for details on what its users have been looking for. Google has reportedly refused to comply with the subpoena, issued last year, for a broad range of material from its databases, including a request for 1 million random Web addresses and records of all Google searches from any one-week period, lawyers for the U.S. Justice Department said in papers filed Wednesday in federal court in San Jose. According to the NYT, the government contends it needs the data to determine how often pornography shows up in online searches as part of an effort to revive an Internet child protection law that was struck down two years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court on free-speech grounds. Imagine having to trawl through the results of that subpoena …. eeeerrrrr-gggly. I would be quite prepared to bet money that any Australian-based search engine would not resist such a subpoena, by the way. Since, from the sound of things, the info could be provided without being identified to particular individuals, privacy laws wouldn’t really apply. Even in the past, when a bunch of Australian universities did resist a subpoena, their resistance was on the question of how much would be provided (to a private party in litigation), not whether it would. [update: more recent coverage notes that Yahoo!, MSN and AOL all received similar requests – and complied.]
  4. Bag and Baggage is a blog I don’t often visit, but always rewards a read. Currently it has a rather interesting post about an ABA Panel on “who owns the news: Attempts by sports organizations and entertainers to control coverage“. In particular, the post discusses the use of contracts and media credentially conditioning to impose the protections that IP law ordinaire would not provide (this is something that was discussed at a CMCL presentation last year, I seem to recall). Worth a read if you’re interested in those celebrity type issues. I always think that once you realise just how much is done with contract, the whole concept of needing property rights in celebrity personality looks a little, well, irrelevant. Contract, the new key!